Could Your Yeast Infection Actually Be Something Else
We all know those tell tale signs, the itchiness, the redness, the agony: the instant you notice them you run to the nearest pharmacy and grab an over-the-counter pill and cream and go about your day waiting for the discomfort to pass.
Then the next infection hits and youre going through the same thing all over again. We just assume it truly was a yeast infection because the anti-fungal medication sort of worked, and well, we really hope its not anything else! But, what about when it doesnt work? What about when you keep getting them over again and no amount of anti-fungal treatment is doing the trick? In these cases the yeast infection you think you have may actually be cytolytic vaginosis.
What Is A Yeast Infection
Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted infections , but sex can lead to a yeast infection, as intercourse can cause small breaks in the skin that allow more yeast to grow.
Symptoms of a yeast infection include a thick, white vaginal discharge, itching, burning and redness. Sex with a yeast infection can be painful, and it may hurt when you pee.
Three out of 4 women will have a yeast infection at some point in their life, and most are mild. However, they can develop into more serious infections in some cases.
Are Your Vaginal Flora Out Of Balance
- Low vitamin D: Vaginas need sunshine too!
- Scented toilet paper and tampons : Even though a pumpkin spice tampon does actually exist, it is not our friend! .
- Food sensitivities and too much sugar: Food intolerances affect the gut flora, which often translate to the vaginal flora. Sugar is also a motivating fuel source for pathogens.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover
Both UTIs and yeast infections should clear up after taking medications within days or a few weeks. You must make sure to take prescribed or over-the-counter medication as directed for the entire recommended length of time to prevent the infection from returning.
You may be able to prevent both UTIs and yeast infections by practicing good hygiene and making changes to your wardrobe. Here are some prevention tips:
- Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing around your genital area, such as pantyhose and restrictive pants.
- Change out of wet swimsuits quickly.
- Avoid scented feminine hygiene products.
Further prevention of UTIs include:
- using the bathroom frequently
- regularly drinking lots of fluid
- urinating before and after sex
Its also possible that drinking cranberry juice can prevent UTIs. The research results are mixed. Make sure to choose a sugar-free version. If the juice is too tart, you can water it down to make the juice more palatable.
You may also be able to reduce your chances of contracting a yeast infection if you:
- avoid hot baths and hot tubs
- change your feminine products often
- control your blood sugar if you have diabetes
Vaginal Yeast Infection Vs Chlamydia Differences
It is not considered a sexually transmitted infection.
On the other hand, chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis and is most prevalent in women under 25 , with symptoms including abnormal vaginal discharge, burning while peeing, lower belly pain, and pain during sex.
Images credit Shutterstock
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Are Yeast Infections Contagious
Yeast infections arent considered STIs. In rare cases, you can pass a yeast infection from one partner to another.
Its also possible for a baby to get a fungal diaper rash at birth if the mother has a vaginal yeast infection during delivery. You may also pass on a yeast infection to your babys mouth during breastfeeding if Candida overgrowth is present in the breast area.
While you can pass a yeast infection to another person, its not contagious in the same way as other infections are. You wont catch the infection by air or by using the same shower as someone with the infection, for example. If youre concerned about transmission, talk to your doctor about situations in which a yeast infection could be contagious.
Bacterial Vaginosis Vs Yeast Infection Symptoms
Both these forms of vaginitis are typically accompanied by vaginal itching, burning sensations and discomfort, with a few key differences in symptoms. There is one typical, major difference between symptoms of a yeast infection vs BV: discharge color. Beyond that, the other key difference is the odor.
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How To Identify A Vaginal Yeast Infection
Not all women will experience noticeable symptoms of a yeast infection. If the infection is mild, the symptoms may be subtle. Knowing whats normal for you will help you identify changes in your vaginal health. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for the first time, consult your healthcare professional for a diagnosis. Most women have one or more of these yeast infection symptoms:
- Pain when urinating or having sex
- Vulvar inflammation
- Vaginal pain, soreness, or burning
- Vaginal discharge that may be thick, white, and lumpy like cottage cheese
The three most common forms of vaginitis are yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis , and trichomoniasis. Symptoms for all three can include some form of vaginal discharge, itching, and irritation, so it is important to understand how they are different so you can get the right treatment. Use the following information as a guide to help identify a vaginal yeast infection:2-5
Thin, milky white or grey
MONISTAT®, other over-the-counter and prescription treatments
If you experience any of the following symptoms, ask a healthcare professional before using MONISTAT®, as they could be signs of another type of infection.
- Lower abdominal, back or shoulder pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Foul-smelling or greenish/grayish vaginal discharge
- Frequent urination, an urgent need to urinate or difficulty passing urine
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis
BV symptoms can be similar to those of a yeast infection. You may experience itching, burning when you pee and abnormal discharge. Unlike yeast infection discharge, BV discharge can be smelly and discolored.
BV is the most common form of bacterial vaginal infection in women ages 15 to 44. If left untreated, BV can cause other health complications.
Prevention Of Vaginal Yeast Infection
Women who are at high risk of a yeast infection may need to take an antifungal drug by mouth to help prevent yeast infections. Such women include those with the following:
A need to take antibiotics for a long time
Repeated yeast infections, particularly in women with a weakened immune system
Keeping the vulva clean and wearing loose, absorbent cotton clothing that allows air to circulate can reduce moisture, which encourages the growth of yeast, and thus help prevent yeast from growing.
How Are Vaginal Yeast Infections Diagnosed
Yeast infections are simple to diagnose. Your doctor will ask about your medical history. This includes whether youve had yeast infections before. They may also ask if youve ever had an STI.
Each yeast infection is different, so your doctor will suggest a treatment thats best for you. Treatments are generally determined based on the severity of your symptoms.
Causes And Risk Factors
Vaginal yeast infections are usually caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans. Its normal for this yeast to live in the mucous membranes lining the genitals. There are usually only small amounts of it, though, so it doesn’t cause any problems.
But the healthy balance of microorganisms living in the membranes is sometimes disrupted for instance, through pregnancy or medication.
The level of estrogen in the body is particularly high during pregnancy. That can upset the healthy balance and increase the likelihood of developing a vaginal yeast infection. Taking the contraceptive pill affects a woman’s hormone levels in a similar way to pregnancy. So women who take the pill are also more likely to have yeast infections.
Some illnesses increase the risk of vaginal yeast infections. These include diabetes and other diseases that weaken the immune system. Various medications can increase the risk too, such as , steroids, hormone therapy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Other factors that increase the risk of vaginal yeast infections include stress, washing your genitals with soap, wearing synthetic and tight clothes, sweating and using non-breathable panty liners or sanitary pads. These things allow the yeast to thrive, leading to an inflammation.
Should You See A Doctor
Both UTIs and yeast infections should be reviewed and diagnosed by your doctor to prevent them from getting worse. UTIs that are untreated could lead to a more serious kidney infection. Yeast infections may also be something more serious, or the symptoms may actually be from another condition, such as a sexually transmitted infection.
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How Common Is Chlamydia
In the United States, chlamydia infection rates are on the rise, making chlamydia the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection in the country. In 2016, almost 1.6 million cases of chlamydia were reported to the Centers for Disease Control .
In the U.S., women are about twice as likely to be reported to have chlamydia as men. However, this is likely due to screening practices, since women are often screened during their annual pelvic exams. Men do not generally have similar annual screenings of their reproductive organs.
Since women are more likely to be asymptomatic, the number of people who actually have chlamydia could be even higher. Also, as testing becomes more sensitive and screening becomes more common and available, this trend is expected to continue to rise.
People aged 15 to 25 years old make up almost two thirds of all chlamydia cases reported in 2016 to the CDC . More specifically, up to 1 in 20 sexually active young women aged 14-24 could have chlamydia in the US .
Outside of the US, chlamydia is also very common. In 2012, the worldwide estimate of chlamydia infections was around 131 million new cases of chlamydia per year . This number is close to that of the entire population of Japan.
How Is Yeast Infection Treated
Your healthcare provider will consider your age, overall health, how widespread the infection is and other factors to determine your treatment.
Yeast infections can be easily treated with ointments or other anti-yeast creams.
- Yeast infection in the mouth may be treated with a medicated mouthwash. Or it may be treated with lozenges that dissolve in the mouth.
- If you have a severe infection and have a weak immune system, you may need to take an oral anti-yeast medicine.
- Esophageal yeast infections are usually treated with oral or intravenous anti-yeast medicines.
- Yeast infections of the nails are treated with an oral anti-yeast medicine.
- Yeast infections in the skin folds can be treated with anti-yeast powders.
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How To Tell If You Have A Uti Or Yeast Infection
A doctor or other health care professional diagnoses a UTI through a urine test. To diagnose a yeast infection, a doctor or health care professional usually examines the genitals, as well as sends a sample of any discharge or secretions for testing.
However, there are a few causes and symptoms for UTIs and yeast infections that can indicate what you might have, what treatment to seek, and what to tell your doctor.
When To See A Medical Provider
If any symptoms of BV or a yeast infection last longer than a few days, or if they impact your quality of life, talk to a medical provider.
BV and yeast infections are some of the most common vaginal conditions faced by women of reproductive age, and your provider will know how to distinguish between them.
When To Go To The Doctor
Because yeast infections and BV have such similar symptoms, it can be hard to tell which you are experiencing, and self-diagnosing is often inaccurate, Dr. Urrutia says.
Dr. Urrutia recommends watching your symptoms for a few days before taking any action. This ensures that you arent just experiencing a normal part of your menstrual cycle.
If you believe you may have a yeast infection, Dr. Urrutia says its OK to try an over-the-counter antifungal medication before making an appointment with your doctoras long as the medication is longer than a one-day treatment.
Do not use the one-day treatments because they are not as effective as the longer-course treatments, she says. You should at least be using the three-day treatment.
It can take up to a week and a half for yeast infection symptoms to go away, but you should see some improvement within a week, Dr. Urrutia says. If your symptoms dont improve, its time to go to the doctor.
Unlike yeast infections, you cannot take OTC medication for BV. If you think you might be experiencing BV, talk to your doctor, who can prescribe the appropriate medication.
The First Herpes Outbreak May Come With A Flu
The first time the HSV expresses itself after you have been infected which could be 47 days after the infection, months, or years, even the sores may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms like fever, body ache, and swollen glands.5
An yeast infection does not cause these. Of course, you may simultaneously have a flu and an yeast infection. The blisters or rashes will be the telling difference.
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Otc Treatments Vs Seeing A Doctor
If you have had yeast infections before and you are certain that is what youre experiencing, then you should be fine buying OTC medications for it. If time passes and the medications obviously arent doing anything, youll want to see a doctor as soon as possible.
If youve never had yeast infections or just arent sure, visiting a doctor is the best option. Better safe than sorry by making assumptions when lab tests can easily provide a diagnosis and a doctor can treat you while also answering all of your questions.
Do you need a doctor you can trust to give you a medical diagnosis and provide treatment? We have an incredible team that youll feel comfortable with and that can assist you! Reach out to us today if youd like to schedule an appointment.
Yeast Infection And Periods
Having both a yeast infection and your period can feel like a double whammy. However, this isnt uncommon. Yeast infections are most likely to occur in women during the final days leading up to their period.
If you experience white to yellow discharge in the week before your period, this isnt automatically a yeast infection unless you have other hallmark symptoms, too, such as redness, burning, and itchiness.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Vaginal Yeast Infections
Vaginal yeast infections can cause:
- redness, swelling, or itching of the vulva
- a thick, white discharge that can look like cottage cheese and is usually odorless, although it might smell like bread or yeast
- pain or burning when urinating or during sex
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor or gynecologist. It’s easy to confuse the symptoms of a yeast infection with those of some STDs and other vaginal infections. Your doctor can make sure you are treated for the right type of infection.
If you have a vaginal yeast infection, your doctor can recommend treatment to clear up the symptoms and cure the infection quickly.
Gonorrhea And Vaginal Discharges
Like chlamydia, gonorrhea doesnât always make itself known with immediately obvious symptoms. And also like chlamydia, gonorrhea discharges are frequently filled with mucus and pusâand commonly has a cloudy appearanceâand can range from white to yellow to green in color.
Another symptom you might experience if you have gonorrhea is vaginal bleedingâeven when youâre not menstruating.
- testicular pain and/or swelling
Depending on the localization of the infection, women, men and children may experience inflamed rectum, urethra or eyelids. The symptoms of mouth and throat infections are rare although a person can suffer a sore throat. Eyes infected with chlamydia can be itchy, swelled, cause painful sensations or produce discharge similar to conjunctivitis. Infection in the rectum results in bleeding, chlamydia discharge and pain.
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How To Treat A Uti Or Yeast Infection
Treatment for a UTI generally includes antibiotics. The type and the dose depend on the bacteria in your urine.
Over-the-counter antifungal medications often can treat a yeast infection in men and women. Depending on the severity, though, your doctor might prescribe an antifungal cream or a one-time oral dose of an antifungal such as fluconazole.
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Common Conditions Often Mistaken For A Yeast Infection
. But that doesnât necessarily mean weâre good at telling the difference between a yeast infection and other vaginal conditions. In fact, one study showed that only about a third of folks were correct in diagnosing themselves with a yeast infection.
Below are eight common conditions that are often mistaken for a yeast infection, plus guidance on how to tell whether they may be the cause of your symptoms. And remember â if your discharge and itchiness are causing you concern, then itâs best to get checked out by a doctor.
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